Lessons in brand stickiness: How to retain customers and improve brand loyalty

Written by on May 24, 2018

Okay, so your brand has the fluid marketing chops to shapeshift through the fast-changing business environment and stay relevant to customers’ demand. You also have a drool-inducing sweetness to your marketing funnel that attracts new customers. But no matter how good your lead gen strategy is, you are going to lose customers without a strong binding agent in your marketing mix. To make your customers stay with your business, you need to create brand stickiness in your products.

Building brand stickiness is a recipe for growth; a sure-shot formula to create a sustainable revenue model. Crafting a sticky brand experience helps businesses turn leads into buyers, convert customers into repeat buyers, and transform them into their vocal brand advocates. In other words, a business retains customers and create long-term brand loyalty by enriching their product experience.

Brand loyalty is as straightforward as employee retention. When a business fails to interest its customers, reward them, or help them grow, they will abandon it for someone else that fulfills these needs. Click To Tweet

In the context of The Cookie Series, creating a sticky brand is the figurative blending of flour with milk to create a rich and gummy cookie dough. A well-mixed dough has no clumps, just a fine foundation for a great gourmet experience.

 

Sassy tales of brand stickiness

According to a Bain and Co. research, it’s six to seven times cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Owing to their subscription-based business model, SaaS businesses know the importance of customer lifetime value (CLV or LTV) more than any other industry. SaaS startups realize that the more their customers interact with their brand, the more likely they are to buy their products and stay for the long-term.

SaaS businesses employ various tactics to keep customers stick to their product, such as offering a certain percent off on yearly subscriptions or getting customers to cultivate enough data on the platform so that migrating to a competitor brand becomes somewhat of a hassle. It’s why they create lock-in periods or have customer success teams alongside support teams. They write blogs on relevant topics or invite industry experts to speak on webinars. They also create drip campaigns and send informative newsletters every month.

SaaS companies take all the effort to better engage with the customers and educate them because they want to help customers realize their goals. Eventually, the karmic cycle of the business cosmos rewards the SaaS vendors with new opportunities as their customers grow at scale and require more of their services.

Many SaaS and e-commerce companies insist on having a responsive live chat support to closely interact with new and existing customers. Forward-thinking companies are raising that bar to engage more meaningfully with customers through a modern messaging platform. They find messaging apps more useful for the personalized and context-driven customer experience they offer. Messaging apps help businesses feel customers’ pulse by directly interacting with them and improve on areas they fall short at.

Gillette started selling razors for dirt cheap and made money out of the replaceable Gillette-only blades that customers had to buy as long as the razors lasted. Click To Tweet

Live messaging platforms help businesses bring customers closer to their brand, fight off churn, and create brand stickiness. The contrary is equally true; a Talend research found that 42% of consumers are likely to “break-up” with a brand if they don’t receive a live customer support.

Many SaaS businesses follow the razor-and-blades strategy to sustain their business; sell something at a lower price or offer freemium trials and make customers pay far more along the way. The idea traces its roots to the Gillette company that started selling their razors for dirt cheap and making money out of the replaceable Gillette-only blades that customers had to buy as long as the razors lasted.

Once you’re in the Apple ecosystem, you can check out any time you want, but you can’t have cross-platform experience.

 

Outside of the SaaS circle, some businesses have mastered the craft of creating stickiness into their products that have become textbook cases for marketers to emulate. Think of how Apple develops products that work great with each other, but are incompatible outside the Apple platform. iTunes might not be your weapon of choice to listen to music, but if you are an iPhone fanatic or a loyal Mac user, you have no choice but to use the music app. Apple has created such a robust product ecosystem that renders apps or device cross-connection belonging to rival brands as useless if they pose any kind of threat to Apple’s range of products.

Or think of the movie theatres you go to. The ticket prices are fine, but the exorbitant price for a small popcorn and a 12 fl oz Coke always infuriates you. Theatres also strongly advise you not to sneak food into the movie hall. It’s because theatre businesses would shut down if they allowed patrons to carry their own F&B to the movies and solely relied on selling movie tickets that are priced like hot dogs. Many theatres also go into contracts to share the cost of tickets with the movie distributors. In a nutshell, theatres primarily make dough not from the movie tickets but by selling expensive snacks through the ironically-named “concession stands.”

A research by Talend group found that 42% of consumers are likely to “break-up” with a brand if they don’t receive a live customer support. Click To Tweet

Amazon, like Apple, is another respected name when it comes to employing path-breaking stickiness into its platform. In addition to existing features like Amazon Pay e-wallet that bound consumers to spend their money only across Amazon storefronts, the e-commerce platform launched Amazon Prime in 2005 amid some skepticism. Over the years, Amazon added a host of offerings to its Prime package such as free and faster deliveries on online orders, early access to flash sales, and exclusive access to Amazon video, e-books, and music streaming services.

As of April 2018, Amazon boasts of having a colossal 100 million Prime subscribers across the globe. In an age of fleeting brand loyalty and the shop around buying culture, which other e-commerce vendors would have thought of fitting subscription-based membership into its business model?

 

5 ways to create a sticky brand experience

Building stickiness into a brand is a tricky game, which is why businesses like Gillette and Apple come up with subtle, pragmatic ways to make buyers stay with their products. But savvy marketers work on improving their brand’s offering to a create more intrinsic, more voluntary brand loyalty.

Here are a few tips on how you can create a strong brand stickiness into your product:

1. Be useful

Over 4 million businesses use G Suite apps for everyday communication and collaboration at work because their products are helpful and deliver great value. From Google Docs to Apps Script, G Suite apps are built to help business departments solve their everyday problems in the simplest way possible. Their cross-platform integration with a multitude of other apps makes them the most sought-after collaboration suite in the business world.

2. Be consistent

There are many reasons why fans love The Ellen DeGeneres Show; Ellen is funny, she’s caring of her audience and the world around her, and she’s been delivering value to her audience since 2003! That’s a long, long time before other American talk show hosts like Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Kimmel made their TV debuts. Her fans trust her to feed their muse regularly, which is why her YouTube channel has over 22,307,549 million fans – ranked as one of the most subscribed channels in the platform.

A great way to make customers stick to your brand is to KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) your business touchpoints and help customers with decision simplicity. Click To Tweet

3. Be there for customers

Being able to answer customer queries on time is of paramount importance for e-commerce businesses. And no other channel does it better than a live chat support platform where sales and support agents can assist buyers in real-time and/or through automation. Club Factory, an emerging direct-from-factory e-commerce business, uses Freshchat for their mobile app to offer personalized customer experience, help visitors self-navigate to the right page, or to chat with a lead bot during offline business hours.

4. Create an emotional appeal

Many brands like Apple, Nike, and Harley-Davidson have a cult-like fan following across the world because their products become an important part of the customers’ lives. Consumers worship these brands and volunteer as the outspoken brand ambassadors for their products. It’s because Apple products evoke a sense of exclusivity among their users, Harley-Davidson makes their motorcyclists feel free and adventurous, and Nike instills a strong sense of grit and the desire to find their greatness in their buyers.

5. Keep things simple

One of the best ways to help customers stick to your brand is to KISS your business touchpoints and help customers with decision simplicity. Buyers don’t always care if the technical features in your product will make it last through the post-apocalyptic world. Most often than not, they just want to know if it will solve their problems. A simple way to test your brand’s simplicity is to run your brand communication through the Mom Test, a favorite approach among Silicon Valley tech elites to measure simplicity. The test suggests that you keep your communication simple enough for grandmothers and mothers to understand so as to not complicate their buying decision with information overload and feature creeps.

Want to test the complexity of your brand communication? Take the Mom Test, a favorite approach among Silicon Valley tech elites to measure simplicity. Click To Tweet

 

Got flour? Mix it well

The marketing world is worried that brand loyalty has become a dead cause in today’s world. They see buyers snapping up the best deals from a myriad of choices and being indifferent to products because of their fickle attention. But these are mere excuses from businesses who fail to create a sticky brand experience – just compare Apples with Amazons for perspective. Most businesses can’t create stickiness because their products are not useful, likable, and sustainable. In other words, their brands don’t have a binding agent that makes customers stay for the gourmet outcome.

Knead your flour well, add the right amount of milk and sugar, and bake your dough at the correct temperature to have customers swooning over your cookies and recommending others to taste it too.

(Cover illustration and images by Karthikeyan Ganesh)

Subscribe for blog updates